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2012 LEBRON JAMES SKILLS ACADEMY RECAP – SATURDAY
Contrast in communication sticks out
by Raphielle Johnson
The LeBron James Skills Academy, and other events like it, provide scouts and media with the opportunity to watch both collegiate and high school players work out in an instructional environment.
The final leg of Nike’s skills academy series, the LeBron camp features 24 college and 93 high school basketball players.
One area that has displayed a stark contrast between the two groups through two days has been on-court communication.
While the college players, be it in drills or in scrimmage situations, consistently communicate with each other the same can’t be said for the the high school stars.
This isn’t incredibly surprising, but if anything the need for instructors to consistently remind the high school players of the importance of on-court communication underlines a major difference between the two levels.
An action as simple as calling out a screen for a teammate may not seem like a big deal, and in many instances pure athletic skill trumps the intangibles when evaluating young talent.
But those “little things” can ultimately be the difference between simply having a shot at being a pro and being able to make an impact as one. This will be something to keep an eye on as the high school players begin scrimmage play on Sunday afternoon.
- Mitchell, point guards stand out in college workouts
One thing that stood out in the college workouts was the size of North Texas forward Tony Mitchell. The rising sophomore, who some think can be a lottery pick next June, is built like a pro right now. Physically he’s been a handful at times for some of the other big men at the camp, and there’s definitely room for growth in the skill department. Tony Benford’s got himself a very good one in Mitchell as he begins his tenure as head coach at UNT.
As for the point guards, that may be the strongest position when it comes to looking at the players by position. Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan and Lehigh C.J. McCollum will both be All-America candidates next season, with McCollum being a likely first round selection in the NBA Draft. McCollum’s a legit 6-3, and the additional work at the point for a guy who played off the ball more often than not last season should help his development.
Michigan’s Trey Burke has been impressive from a physical standpoint, and if this weekend is any indication Arizona should be in good hands with Mark Lyons running the show.
- Hill, Lyons will determine how far Arizona goes
The impulse of many has been to point out the quality of Sean Miller’s incoming recruiting class as the biggest reason why the Wildcats are a favorite in the Pac-12. But without the experience of Lyons and wing Solomon Hill it would be far tougher for the youngsters to experience success.
Hill has to be considered one of the nation’s most versatile players if he wasn’t already, and his play in camp has done nothing to dissuade that thought. He’s gone up against just about anyone, be it guarding a Jackie Carmichael (Illinois State) or Doug McDermott (Creighton) on the block or taking on one of the perimeter players. There’s little doubt that Arizona will once again contend in the Pac-12, and depending on how their older players perform even more is possible.
- Could a more versatile Ed Daniel = a better Murray State?
That’s a definite possibility, especially with the 6-6 ½ forward getting more work on the wing this weekend. Daniel’s chief responsibilities came as an inside presence for the Racers last season, but with Ivan Aska and guards Jewuan Long and Donte Poole moving on he’ll need to be more of a factor offensively next season. LeBron camp could be a springboard for him, and the Racers, in that regard.
High school recruiting notes
With the post-workout interview sessions being of the short variety it’s a car wash of sorts when it comes to discussing the recent happenings on the recruiting trail. But NBE Sports was able to catch up with a few of the top prospects in the 2013 class.
- PG Tyler Ennis (2013)
June 15th contact rule changes: Ennis, the 13th ranked player in the recent NBE Class of 2013 Pre-July Live Period Top 75 was in Brazil with Canada’s U-18 team on the day the new rules went into effect. “It was pretty much the schools that called me the most before,” said Ennis. “A lot of schools just want to let you know that they want you…everyday, but they’re just doing their job.”
- PF Kenton Facey (2013)
Harvard, Yale and Princeton have shown heavy interest in Facey, who is looking for a good balance between basketball and academics (civil engineering) in his college choice.
June 15th contact rule changes: “It hit 12:01 am and it got crazy,” said Facey, who was hanging out with his brother and some friends at the time. But he looks at the added attention as a positive rather than a nuisance. “It’s all good. I know a lot of kids who just pray and work hard to have one coach pick them up, so I’m really grateful and thankful for it.”
- SG EC Matthews (2013)
Arizona, NC State, Oregon, UNLV, Xavier, Iowa, Indiana have been the most active in Matthews’ recruitment at this point.
Matthews said that he currently holds offers from Arizona, Iowa, Dayton, USC and Rhode Island.
Matthews is hoping to progress towards playing more of the point at the next level, essentially becoming a combo guard.
June 15 contact rule changes: He did state that some schools got a bit out of hand in terms of the amount of contact, but didn’t seem too upset about the added attention.
- SG Wayne Selden (2013)
In speaking with Selden, the Tilton School product stated that much didn’t change from a recruiting standpoint when he moved back into his original graduating class from 2014. “It’s kind of the same ones right now,” said Selden.
Florida, Ohio State, UCLA, Harvard, Syracuse and Missouri were the schools that he named when asked if any stood out in their interest in Selden right now, who is # 9 in the NBE Class of 2013 Pre-July Live Period Top 75 rankings.
June 15th contact rule changes: “It changed a lot,” said Selden, who also noted that he was asleep (at NBPA Camp) when the rule went into effect. “I didn’t charge my phone that night, so the entire day at NBA camp my phone was dead.”
With high school campers beginning scrimmage play on Sunday afternoon, there should be more in the way of skill evaluations on them.
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